Shigella infections lead to severe inflammation associated with destruction of colonic mucosa. We assessed the effect of in vivo blockade of CD14 on the outcome of experimental Shigella infection in rabbits. A total of 17 rabbits were divided into two groups: 8 received a single i.v. dose of anti-rabbit CD14 monoclonal antibody prior to infection with an invasive Shigella flexneri strain; the remainder served as controls. The anti-CD14-treated rabbits exhibited more severe tissue destruction and a 50-fold increase in bacterial invasion of the intestinal mucosa when compared to controls. Similar numbers of polymorphonuclear leukocytes were recruited to the intestinal mucosa in both groups despite the massive bacterial invasion seen in the CD14-blocked group. No statistically significant differences were seen in levels of IL-1beta nor in the ratio of IL-1RA/IL-1beta for either group. In contrast, higher quantities of TNF-alpha were observed in the CD14-blocked group. To conclude, anti-CD14 treatment had a detrimental effect on the capacity of Shigella-infected animals to clear the infection.